Carl Hield's hand is raised by the referee in victory.
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
CARL Hield’s road to the 2020 Olympic Games qualifying tournament began with a victory in his first match for the year over the weekend in Pennsylvania.
Hield, the top Bahamian amateur boxer now training in Tampa, Florida, pulled off a second-round technical knockout victory over Zaire Jefferson.
He noted that the performance showed that he’s right on track to go to the qualifying tournament in Argentina March 26 to April 3 in his bid to make the team that will represent the Bahamas at the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, July 24 to August 8.
“It was a good fight. It started off very competitive in the first round, but I did what I had to do. I got him out in the second round,” Hield said. “The referee gave me a TKO win after he gave the guy three eight counts. The referee gave him one in the first round. In the second round, he got another one.
“Then at the ending of the second round, he got the third one. I think the referee must have seen that he couldn’t take no more so he stopped the fight.”
The performance, according to Hield, was not surprising but rather encouraging with the level of training that he has been getting from coach Zach Campbell in Tampa.
“It just shows that I’m getting to that standard where I am getting ready for the Olympic qualifier,” Hield said. “I was surprised by the stoppage. I didn’t expect it to get stopped. I was hoping it would go the full distance. So I was surprised by the stoppage. But I’m just trying to get to the point where I get ready for Argentina and get one of the qualifying spots for the Olympics,” Hield said. “I think I am ready for the qualifying tournament. I am looking forward to it and performing at my best.”
Hield said he’s preparing to get back in the ring next weekend for the Sugar Bert Green Belt Challenge where he’s won a belt in his last three appearances in the tournament. He said plans are currently being made for him to compete in the tournament.
At the same time, Hield said there is a possibility that the Bahamas Amateur Boxing Federation may take a team to compete in the Dominican Republic at the end of the month, so Hield said that might be an option for him as well.
“I want to get in at least six fights before Argentina,” Hield said. “After taking a two-week break before Easter, I’m at 60 per cent, I don’t want to get up there too quickly. By March, I want to be about 80 per cent going into the qualifying tournament.
“By the time I get to the qualifying tournament, I want to be at 100 per cent. I am just taking my time. We are just preparing for the qualifiers. We are just training and sparring and working on our strength conditioning.”
Hield thanked God for allowing him to display his skills at the age of 32. He also expressed his gratitude to the boxing federation, headed by Vincent Strachan, and to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture for their financial commitment to ensuring that he gets the opportunity to continue to prepare for the Olympics.
The Americas’ qualification will take place at the CeNARD High-performance Athletics Training Centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 26 to April 3. Failing that, the only other opportunity will come at the World qualifying event in Paris, France, May 13-24, at a venue to be announced later.
While the total number of athletes (286) has been maintained from the Rio 2016 Olympics, the number of female boxers has been tripled for Tokyo 2020 in a major boost toward gender equality and in keeping with the enhanced quality and popularity of female boxing.
The boxing competition in Tokyo will feature 186 men and 100 women (compared to 250 men and 36 women in Rio).